- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Rogues, terrorists and nukes

Proponents of nuclear deterrence persist in reconceptualizing it to reflect changing times and to fit reduced or distorted threats (“Deterrence needed,” Op-Ed, Friday).

It is a strategy that requires a near-perfect understanding of an enemy’s intentions since the consequences of failure are intolerable. But this was almost impossible to guarantee when the enemy was the Soviet Union, from whose people we were deeply alienated and largely isolated. The fact that we avoided Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was more by luck than judgment. But if deterrence in the Cold War setting was fatally flawed, the persistence in a belief that retaliation with nuclear weapons is a legitimate and appropriate response to current terrorist threats assumes even less understanding of human psychology. MAD just got madder.

Retired Gen. Lee Butler, former commander in chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, questioned the folly of nuclear deterrence in a speech 10 years ago. What could possibly justify our use of the very weapons of mass destruction we rightly abhor and condemn? Who can imagine our joining in shattering the precedent of non-use of nuclear weapons that has held for more than 60 years? How could the U.S. role as a powerful advocate against nuclear proliferation ever be justified? What target would warrant such retaliation? Would we hold an entire society accountable for the decision of a single demented terrorist leader? Is this threat to be extended beyond Riyadh, Tehran and Islamabad to include, for example, London, if the terrorist link is shown to be “homegrown” (as was the case in the London bombings)? Gen. Butler rightly concluded that at a stroke we would martyr our enemy, alienate our friends and give impetus to states that seek such weapons covertly. In short, such a response on the part of the United States is inconceivable, even in the face of extreme provocation. The reality is that, in regards to terrorism, the U.S. nuclear deterrent is effectively a neutered deterrent.

IAN DAVIS

British American Security Information Council

London

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John B. Roberts II says we need to get the best and brightest of our game theorists to develop a nuclear threat that will deter the terrorists from using a nuke against us.

I have studied some game theory, and it suggests to me that we should tell the world that if we or any of our allies are attacked with a nuclear weapon and we cannot determine the source, we will nuke the capital of every nation that has acquired such weapons in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Our allies that have nuclear weapons can follow suit or take care of themselves.

Such a threat would be credible because it would be limited. Also, although broader than what others have suggested, it would be fully justified. It would mean we might nuke a nation that had nothing to do with the attack on us, but we nevertheless would be entitled to consider that nation complicit because, by acquiring weapons in violation of the treaty, it intentionally had made it more difficult for us to determine the source of any such attack and thereby given the guilty nation cover and a shield.

Such a threat would be effective in deterring a rogue nation not only from using the nuclear weapons it acquires but from acquiring them in the first place. Because of the threat, the leaders of such a nation would have to worry not only about adequately controlling its own weapons but whether other rogue nations adequately control theirs.

Such a threat would not be directed at the terrorists and might not deter them from using any nuclear weapons they do acquire, but it very well could dry up some of their more likely sources.

ROBERT C. RICHARDS

Sanford, N.C.

43 years of isolation

The letter from the Greek Cypriot Press Counsellor titled “Just the facts” (Friday) is an exercise in semantics and distortion and a demonstration of how little respect the Greek Cypriot officials have for their Turkish Cypriot co-islanders, evident from the derogatory term “servile entity.”

Although there are no legally imposed international sanctions on the Turkish Cypriots, we have been subjected to a Greek Cypriot-instigated severe isolation in the last 43 years which covers virtually every aspect of life — from politics to travel, from trade to the arts and culture, not to mention sports. This, in spite of the fact that the United Nations Secretary-General, in his report to the Security Council (S/2004/437 dated 28 May 2004, paragraph 93), recommended …to eliminate unnecessary restrictions and barriers that have the effect of isolating the Turkish Cypriots and impeding their development.” If the Turkish Cypriot economy developed in spite of these restrictions and barriers, it is only thanks to the economic acumen of the Turkish Cypriots and the generous assistance provided by Turkey.

While grossly exaggerating the number of Turkish troops, the writer conveniently ignores the presence of thousands of Greek troops on the island, including 20 generals commanding the “National Guard.” These and other distortions, coupled with the hostile tone of the letter, beg the question as to what kind of “facts” the Greek Cypriot official is presenting and whether her side will ever be ready for a partnership of equals in Cyprus.

OSMAN ERTUG

Representative

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Washington

A NYT distinction

The article written by Rep. Ed Royce titled, “Flawed terror war reports” (Commentary, Wednesday) incorrectly referred to Byron Calame as an “Editor” at the New York Times and misrepresented his views as an official statement of the newspaper.

Mr. Calame is our public editor and he serves as our “ombudsman.” In this capacity as an independent critic, Mr. Calame examines how we cover a wide variety of issues and provides us with an excellent sounding board. That being said, his position does not give him the authority to issue statements on behalf of the New York Times. This is a very important distinction and it should be fully understood by readers. In fact, his columns always contain the following disclaimer: “The public editor serves as the readers’ representative. His opinions and conclusions are his own.”

ABBE RUTTENBERG

SERPHOS

Director

Public Relations

The New York Times Co.

New York

‘I have not forgotten’

Bless Joan Russow’s heart for showing such concern for Nicaragua’s internal affairs (“U.S. noses in Nicaragua,”Letters, Friday). I am certain it was just an oversight on her part that while she was castigating the role of the United States in Nicaragua’s elections, she forgot to mention the roles that the tyrannical dictators of Cuba and Venezuela undoubtedly are playing to support their old pal Daniel Ortega — the murderer of the Miskito Indians, molester of his own stepdaughter and bankrupter of the Nicaraguan people. I have not forgotten.

JOHN SUMMERS

Falmouth, Va.

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